Thursday, July 29, 2004
By Lorilee Craker
The Grand Rapids Press
Boston founder Tom Scholz was wandering around onstage wearing a "Crew" T-shirt, incognito to the casual observer, when the rest of his enduring classic-rock band stormed the stage at the DeltaPlex Entertainment &Expo Center on Wednesday night. The estimated 2,700 fans in the house greeted them with a huge ruckus that hardly let up during the nearly three-hour show.
There was Scholz, a surprisingly subdued figure who spent most of the night intent on his superb guitar stylings while leaving the spotlight to others. His shrieking "Star Spangled Banner," though, was dazzling and set the bar high for the rest of the night.
And there was lots more to come.
With no fewer than five electric guitars and one bass, Boston's sound was layered, robust and huge. Lead vocalists Brad Delp and Fran Cosmo sounded fantastic -- as if they were just starting out with boundless energy and drive, rather than a couple of fiftysomethings who have been at this rock thing for about three decades. The two effortlessly handled vocals, screaming out those legendary high notes on "Peace of Mind," "Foreplay/Long Time" and "More Than a Feeling," all of which came early in the show. Fans were crazy for the old songs, bellowing out lyrics and cheering up a storm. It was obvious how much tunes such as "More Than a Feeling" meant to everyone: the band up on stage and the crowd down below.
Whether or not it was needed, a spaceship motif running through the show was retro good fun. On "Don't Look Back," the crowd's view was that of a spaceship pilot, looking out three enormous "windows" at the sun, stars, planets, clouds, etc. Delp and Cosmo's thrilling harmonies on that tune, plus the ultra-gimmicky space flight, made for one trippy ride.
Solid crowd connection
As for repartee, there was almost none, except for Scholz's standard "Hello, Grand Rapids. Welcome to Boston!" Yet the band achieved a warm rapport with the audience, flipping out dozens of guitar picks to fans.
Bass player Kimberley Dahme was definitely a crowd favorite, swinging her long blond locks and waving back at smitten dudes in the audience. She did a wonderful job anchoring her five guitar-playing amigos -- including Delp, Scholz, Cosmo, Gary Pihl and Cosmo's son, Anthony. Once she and Scholz did a slow-burn tango, she on bass and he playing the synthesizer, that just simmered.
Though the tried-and-true songs got the biggest crowd response, new tunes such as "Cryin," from the band's latest CD, "Corporate America," were appreciated in moderation. ("Cryin," by the way, was penned by the younger Cosmo and sung beautifully by his dad. Very cool.)
"HollyAnn," "Walk On," the headbanger "Cool the Engines" ... one burly song after another rolled off the stage, barely giving the crowd a chance to sit down and contemplate the universe. But that's what a power ballad is for! Sweet "Amanda," with Delp's tender vocals, did the job nicely.
One oddity was the marathon -- and I mean marathon -- organ prelude to "Walk On," featuring a caped Scholz with his back to the crowd, ebony porn seated at what could only be Herman Munster's organ. It was a bizarre bit of theater in an otherwise splendid show. Oh well, Scholz &Co. made up for it with "Foreplay," the lush and epic keyboard solo, and then "Long Time."
By the time "Smokin' " fired up the room one more time for the finale, the crowd was cooked. Yes, Boston left few wanting more Wednesday night.
Pretty much everyone left the DeltaPlex "Feelin' Satisfied."